Shall we discuss another observational study filled with sound and fury and in the end signifying nothing? Let’s. This article published in the journal Stroke looked at over 140,000 French people over a decade and asked them about their long work hours. Let me first say that I am a Francophile et je peux parler francais assez bien. However, I snicker when I read about the French and the long work hours. I guess…… if that includes the time they spend on the picket line! I’ve never visited France without some part of their vital industries being on strike. This was not an exclusion criteria when they asked about people that worked 50 hours a week or longer, 10 hours a day, for over a decade. When those people (10% of respondents) were compared to their normally working French counterparts, they had a 29% higher risk of stroke. Sounds dangerous until you calculate that the incidence of stroke was 0.85% and a 29% risk increase makes it a 1.1% risk. The absolute risk increase is 0.25%. Hardly a headline, so 29% sounds much better and newsworthy.
So why even talk about it? Well because if you look at all the other data coming before it, it supports the idea well that long work hours in younger people poses a health risk. I agree with that assessment. We have long known the importance of dedicated time to one’s health and work life balance. A career can be prolonged and lifetime earning potential increased by paying attention to taking time out for exercise and vacation. As a true supporter of evidence based data, I am taking my annual July sabbatical! I’ll travel with my family, spend time on my bike and at the gym, and fixing up some house projects. I’d encourage you all to do the same. Take a break! Your body, your mind, and your long term financial condition deserve it!